So, first off, let me tell you about the anchorage. It is a mix of boats in transit, boats wanting to be in transit and the weird ones who just like living here all the time. Lots of space on this side, but on the other side of the causeway (literally less than a 2 minute walk) there is another anchorage with people tucked in quite close together called Las Playita. We can hear them on the radio, can walk over to meet them in 5 minutes, but it takes about 30 minutes to dinghy around the point to where they are! The tides here are incredible, apparently up to 5 metres, so anchoring now has the additional calculation of how much scope do we need for high tide (you have to put out 5 x as much chain as the depth we are in). Happily our anchor is set in a lovely spot and we are happily at home.
Getting to shore is a bit of a challenge. It seems that the ramp to the floating dock (and part of the floating dock itself) has collapsed into the sea some time ago, so now you tie up to the floating dock and have to get into a small red dinghy that has ropes to pull you towards shore. I have started to realize more about the tides too, at low tide, you can nearly hop across the gap, at high tide it is a ways to pull. The dinghy is always a bit wet, always a bit tippy and always lots of fun! The stairs are slimy and made of concrete and a good place to meet lots of people. Finally, we are in a place where you can hear any language and it is lovely. We have a place to get rid of trash, haven’t found a place to get water nearby but can go to shore for free!!
There is a local ‘net’ here, on our VHF radio, on the other side it was lonely, no one checked in, here the radio is buzzing all day and at 8 am there is the “good morning cruisers” to let everyone know it is coming. It has been a great resource. Phil and I never check in, just listen to see if there is useful information and the people that have been here a long time are more than willing to share which is good. Where to find a photocopier, what plays are happening in the city, the meaning of a leap year, the weather, things to buy/sell/trade, where to get work done, how to get to an embassy it has all been spouted about on the net. I seriously think some of these people just love to talk. We have cringed a few times at some of the jokes and have heard more than one weird interchange, someone forgetting the name of a place announced she had Cruiseheimers, another person wanting to thank someone for rescuing his dinghy asked for a “round of clicks” the noise that the radio makes when you push the button to talk, and a few seconds of clicking was heard, so strange, but yesterday the weirdest… a new boat (purchased for 2 million according to the owner) came on the net saying he would like to “host a lifestyle party and in the interest of confidentiality click now to let them know if people were interested” I have never heard the net quite as quiet as at that moment. Oh I laughed!
Our little neighbourhood used to be American territory, but since they have given the canal back to the Panamanian’s it has been developed as an upscale tourist area. Lots of posh restaurants, these weird bicycles that remind me of Fred Flinstone’s car (fits four adults, plush two children) are peddled slowly up and down the road. A shoppette, selling bread, and tins of things and beer for a dollar with free wireless where all the cruisers hang out, a few pizza places with wood burning stoves (hopefully Phil and I will be heading there for a date soon) fishing shops, boat shops and some duty free shops. No fresh fruits or veg to be found, but still, you can stay here for a while. We have briefly seen Allan and Pers again before they headed to the Galapagos, have met a few other cruising people and had a lovely surprise from Bruce and Marcelle (from Adventure bound) of 15 gallons of water, an incredible treat! We’ve managed to meet up with them a few times for beers and dinner and are realizing what a community this can be. So, that’s where we are and it looks like we’ll be here for at least another week waiting to see if our boat can get hauled out to repaint the bottom. If it doesn’t work out we’ll just have to clean it a lot, but hopefully we’ll know in a week or so if it is possible! Fingers crossed!